Seniors at Ball High School awoke Monday morning to a text from their principal, Joseph Pillar, informing them their senior prom had been canceled.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has extended the class of 2020’s spring break into its third week, has wreaked havoc on area high school senior activities and milestone events such as senior prom and several others, including commencement exercises in some cases.
“When I got that text that prom was canceled, it saddened me,” Ball High School senior Sabrina Diaz, 17, said. “I’ve looked forward to my senior prom since forever. I couldn’t believe that all of us seniors were going to miss out on a big part of our senior year.”
Ball High School’s senior prom had been scheduled for May 2.
Diaz, who also is a member of the National Art Honor Society at the school, already had bought her dress, which she can’t return, and accessories, which cost her more than $500, she said.
“I do understand what’s going on and I know that it’s serious, but I felt there should’ve been another plan for us to still get to experience senior prom,” Diaz said. “It feels like COVID-19 has affected my entire senior year. This isn’t fair. And, now I’m worried about graduation festivities potentially being canceled. I haven’t experienced anything a senior should due to this pandemic.”
Most venues that normally host high school proms are closed indefinitely because of COVID-19, and school administrators in Galveston and Dickinson independent school districts, as well as O’Connell College Preparatory School, had to make the difficult decision to cancel senior proms, officials said.
“The global coronavirus pandemic will be affecting us for some time,” Billy Rudolph, director of communications and marketing for Galveston ISD, said. “Even if we’re up and running in May, the preparations for prom wouldn’t be able to be carried out.
“Therefore, we’ve decided to cancel the event for 2020 and focus on making sure our students are receiving an education during this time, and making sure we all do our part to slow the spread of this indiscriminate virus.”
ANGRY AND DISAPPOINTED
Taylor Nicole May, 18, a senior at Dickinson High School, is angry and disappointed her senior prom has been canceled because of COVID-19, she said.
“Although I’m upset, I was expecting prom to be canceled because of the virus,” May said. “I haven’t seen my friends in weeks. I’m also worried about graduation being pushed back and I strongly dislike online classes, especially my advanced placement courses. This has been difficult. I miss everyone, including the janitors.”
When the city of Galveston canceled all large gatherings through May, Dickinson ISD administrators, too, had to make the difficult decision to cancel prom festivities, which were set for May 2 at Moody Gardens, said Billye Smith, principal at Dickinson High School.
“Please know that we are sensitive to the needs of our seniors and ensuring that they experience the time-honored traditions and the rites of passage that come with completing high school,” Smith said in a prepared statement sent to seniors. “We are exploring other options, and more information will be forthcoming once we have returned to school and venues open once again.”
May’s mother, Teresa Scott-May, has encouraged her daughter to embrace and deal with this setback and to move on, she said.
“Life is too short to stress over what you cannot control,” Scott-May said. “She’s my only daughter, and when this is all over and done with, we plan to do a mini celebration to commemorate all the senior events that she and her friends are going to miss out on.”
‘SHIFTED THE COURSE OF OUR SENIOR YEAR’
Seniors and close friends Zavier Wallace of Ball High School, Kamdon Conley of Dickinson High School and Kameron Thomas of Clear Creek High School have been looking forward to senior prom since they attended their junior proms in 2019, Wallace said.
A member of Tor Watch, which is known for getting football fans into a frenzy at Ball High School football games, Wallace, 18, had a sinking feeling that senior prom was going to be canceled.
“This pandemic has postponed graduation, canceled Senior Serve and possibly Project Graduation,” Wallace said. “I’m not even able to spend the last part of my senior year with most of my friends. COVID-19 has shifted the course of our senior year.”
Wallace’s mother, Jessica Wallace, was devastated at the news, she said.
Jessica Wallace was looking forward to her son and his friends experiencing what she and her best friends experienced together as Ball High School members of the class of 1995, she said.
“We’ve been looking forward to seeing our sons (graduate) together in 2020 just as we did 25 years ago,” Jessica Wallace said. “We’re extremely saddened and heartbroken that their senior memories will be altered by COVID-19, but our main priority is that our children remain safe.”